Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Stand and deliver

I know all about the fact that sitting on your butt all day is not especially good for you. It can turn you into a depressed flab-master, and all sorts of other bad things.

When I did work full time, I always had plenty of walking around to do, plenty of meetings to attend, plenty of ups and downs during the day – places to go, people to see.

These days, when I could actually plunk in front of the computer for extended periods, I make sure I get up and out. It’s a rare day – and the weather has to be truly atrocious – for me not to get out at least for a bit, even if it’s just a walk to the drug store to pick up some Chapstick or over to Whole Food because I ran out of grapes. And if I don’t go out out, I at least move around enough to get myself a cup of tea every few hours or so.

I also know that some people have adopted standing desks, and that this works for them.

I’ve thought about adopting the stand and deliver approach to use to vary things up a bit, but haven’t gotten around to it quite yet. (It’s rather far down on the to-do list, I’m afraid.)

Position is everything in life, and all that. (Whatever that means…)

Inevitably, it’s not enough to let those who want to sit at work sit, and those who want to stand at work stand and those who just want to roam around to roam.

No, there has to be someone who designs an office where it’s not possible to sit (unless you take a bathroom break – maybe: the fatwa on sitting may extend to toilet seats and these offices of the future designed with those squat on your footholds toilets found in places like France and Turkey).

The ban on sitting is:

…an idea that inspired a recent art installation in Holland called “The End of Sitting.” Rietveld Architecture-Art-Affordances (RAAAF), a self-described “experimental studio,” and visual artist Barbara Visser were the creative minds behind the show. They collaborated to make an entire office where conventional sitting postures are impossible. Instead, the office design resembles a rocky landscape containing nooks and crannies that only afford workers a variety of standing, leaning and even lying-down postures. (Source: Huffington Post)


Maybe it’s fun if you’re a 20-something who looks good in a black leotard, but this looks pretty darned un-user friendly to me.

And I know that conversation and collaboration and brainstorming and fortuitous encounters are actually part of work, I have my doubts about whether those 20-somethings in the leotards are actually doing anything productive. Other than looking good in assuming a variety of positions.

Office of the future

The artists took their concept beyond an exhibit, and actually had workers spend a few days using the installation. Those workers, once they found a position that worked, supposedly “reported higher well-being” and being “more energetic.”

Let’s see how they feel after a couple of months, years, decades on the no-sit-down job.

I’ve had plenty of jobs where you were on your feet for a full eight hours.

I worked retail. I worked in a factory. I was a waitress.

And I don’t care how sturdy and arch-supporting my shoes were, I was pretty darned tired at the end of the day, looking forward to nothing so much as getting home and soaking my feet in hot water. I had these stand and deliver (platters of prime rib) jobs when I was in my teens and twenties. I can’t imagine having a job where I couldn’t sit down when I was in my fifties or sixties. There’s only so much leaning and lying down I was ever going to want to do on the job.

“[This experiment shows that] the chair and desk are no longer unquestionable starting points,” Rietveld said, noting that a second version of "The End of Sitting" may be on its way. "'The End of Sitting' marks the beginning of an experimental trial phase, exploring the possibilities of radical change for the working environment."

There’s no doubt that the working environment could use plenty of radical change: better management, greater meaning, more interesting work, some modicum of security.

The desk and the chair are the least of it.


I stand and salute my sister Trish, for pointing this article my way, and letting me know that she hopes to retire before “The End of Sitting” happens to her.

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